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Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

Museums Galleries Scotland is striving to be an anti-racist organisation, and we are committed to working as an anti-racist development body for the Scottish museums and galleries sector.

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

This commitment marks the beginning of a wider process of work and review for Museums Galleries Scotland (MGS) of our policies around anti-racism and drives us to reflect on the way we work and to improve the service we deliver. We are exploring how to do this effectively, to support sustainable change in our organisation and across the sector.

Our commitment to anti-racism sits within our wider responsibility to work inclusively, and to support museums and galleries across Scotland to involve a wider range of people in the services they offer. We recognise that, within this work, the prevalence of racist systems requires us to specifically work in an anti-racist and way to combat discrimination and prejudice.

Why are we making this commitment?

It is our responsibility to make sure that the work we do and support is fair: we recognise that access to museums and galleries has not been delivered with racial equity and we want to work with the sector to achieve this.

To do this, we have been reviewing our work and identifying how our actions may contribute to structural racism. We are changing how we work and the programmes we deliver to support meaningful change, challenge historical structures which were upheld by white privilege and power, and promote healthy representations of equality, diversity, and inclusivity across Scotland’s museums and galleries. 

We are committed to this restorative and reparative work to decrease bias, and we welcome dialogue with those who are interested in our work. We will share the progress of this work with honesty, openness, integrity, and accountability. We strive to learn from our mistakes and do better with our future choices and actions in the future.

What does our anti-racism commitment mean for staff at Museums Galleries Scotland?

We are working to prioritise anti-racism across our organisation, and to embed anti-racism into all aspects of our culture. We will ensure that every member of staff at MGS has the support in place to work in an anti-racist way. This includes:

  • Seeking to educate and inform ourselves, our colleagues, and those we work with on racism and anti-racism.
  • Being prepared to challenge and dismantle negative behaviours, including structural discrimination, prejudice, and bias in ourselves, in our institution, and in those we work with.
  • Seeking to understand who we are working with, who we are not working with, and why this is the case. From here, we will find ways to address any imbalances.
  • Listening to those with lived experiences of prejudice and co-developing ways to increase equitable experiences and relationships within MGS and in the wider museums and galleries sector.
  • Building our organisational awareness to recognise when it is not our story to tell or our role to lead: we decentre ourselves and work to offer support when and where appropriate.

Changes to how we work

We have already made a range of changes and adjustments to our systems to enable us to work in an anti-racist way. Our goal is to implement progressive changes across our ways of working, and to learn from these as we work to be more equitable. 

You can read case studies on approaches we have taken to embed anti-racism in our work. 

Adjusting our processes
By Laura McDonald, Contracts and Procurement Manager.   

Adapting our collections work
By Jacob O’Sullivan, Museum Development Manager (Collections and Interpretation), Jenny Youngson, Museum Development Manager (Accreditation), and Victoria Hawkins, Museum Development Manager (Accreditation). 

How we recruit and support our Team
By Helen Raggett, Senior Resources Manager.

Embedding anti-racism into the heart of how we communicate
By Kelly Forbes, Digital Manager, and Rosie King, Marketing and PR Officer.

How we are supporting the sector

As well as supporting change within our own organisation, We are committed to supporting the museums and galleries sector to work in an anti-racist way. We are committed to ensuring that museums and galleries in Scotland are supported to work as anti-racist organisations and recognise that this requires long-term change.

You can read about some of the work we have undertaken to help support the sector or helped to fund, to support changes in museums and galleries practice which will have impact and meaning. This work is ongoing and we will continue to share best practice and resources.

How will we monitor and share our work?

We will:

  • Review our work annually and will update our processes for delivering our commitment.
  • Seek expert advice to improve our practice.
  • Share learnings to the museum sector and beyond through our website and other channels, including conferences and publications.  

We welcome conversations about this work, and we encourage you to get in touch with us at inform@museumsgalleriesscotland.org.uk

This commitment has been reviewed by external consultants, who have been remunerated for their time. These individuals have included:

Phoenix Archer, Progress in Dialogue

Nelson Cummins, Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights

We are grateful for their feedback as we have developed our commitment, and we will continue to work with those who have expertise in the delivery of anti-racist programming and a track record of holding organisations to account. We are, however, fully responsible for this commitment, and for working to change our own organisation.